Victoria to drive down fuel theft

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The ‘We See You Too’ campaign aims to get tough on fuel theft, which costs retailers $4.2 million per year.

Minister for Police Lisa Neville and Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) CEO Geoff Gwilym have said enough is enough.

Ms Neville launched the campaign in the past week, claiming the Labor government had invested almost $100,000 in it.

The minister says the four-week campaign was developed in partnership with fuel proprietors and Victoria Police. She describes it as a short-term initiative with a long-term goal – to encourage public reporting to decrease theft rates.

“We know that when fuel theft does occur it’s costly for operators and impacts their livelihood,” Ms Neville said. “Anyone caught stealing fuel now has a higher chance of being reported to Crime Stoppers and can face up to 10 years in jail.”

Fuel theft: a criminal matter

The campaign supports the recent change in Victoria Police fuel-theft policy. The change means police will treat fuel theft as a criminal matter, not a civil one, as before.

VACC played a crucial role in bringing about this change. In practical terms, it means that:

  • Victoria Police will acknowledge all reported instances of fuel theft and lodge incidents on an official database.
  • Industry will continue to provide evidence of fuel theft to Victoria Police. The police must then determine whether a crime was committed.
  • Victoria Police will arrest offenders if a crime has been established. They won’t merely pursue thieves to demand payment, as before.
  • Victoria Police will continue to rely on industry evidence to connect fuel theft with other crimes.

Speaking about the policy change, Geoff Gwilym said: “This is a victory for fuel retailers. They have been seen and heard by VACC – and this is the result.”